Talking about money with your parents may not be a comfortable situation, but it’s critical to have the conversation as early as possible if you are becoming a caregiver for them. Taking over their finances can seem overwhelming and will require a good organizational foundation to minimize stress on you.
Here are some suggestions for making the transition as seamless as possible:
Start by Collecting a List of All Accounts
Investments, credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, etc. If your parents are able to identify them all, great. Otherwise, track incoming mail and start your own list. We like to use a secure password vault like LastPass to collect account numbers, logins, usernames, security questions/answers, and balance information.
Become a Power of Attorney
You’ll need this authorization to deal with any financial institutions on behalf of your parents. Keep a scanned copy handy on your computer and a couple of extra paper copies in a secure but accessible file.
Change Mailing Addresses to Yours
Chances are, if you are taking over finances, your parents are not in a place to manage their own incoming mail and understand what to do with all of the statements and invoices that may be coming their way.
Go Paperless and Set Bills up on Autopay whenever possible
Reduce the amount of paper you’ll have to file and checks you will have to write by automating as much as possible. If cash flow is a challenge, look for a credit card that can accommodate monthly bills and then you’ll have just that one payment to make each month.
Designate Separate Files for your Parents’ Financial Papers
For those papers that you do need to keep, separate them from yours and have a designated area. Often, a separate file box or bin can work perfectly for this need.
Hire an independent financial advisor to help you understand investment portfolios and needs, and a CPA to assist with taxes. You might also consider a bookkeeper if there are a lot of transactions to record.
Share Information and Be Transparent
You can get ahead of any potential conflicts with siblings or other family members by providing regular reports and updates.
I hope our series on caregiver support has been helpful to you! Let us know what other organizational challenges you are facing, or solutions that are working for you. We love the feedback.